Education Minister Hekia Parata has criticised Opposition MP's over the use of charter schools instead of the rebranded term "partnership schools".

Ms Parata and Education Secretary Peter Hughes appeared at the education and science committee this morning over estimates for Vote Education.

"First of all these are partnership schools, that is what the policy speaks of, that is what the estimates refer to and that is what the legislation has enacted into law - they are partnership schools or kura hourua," said Ms Parata.

Ms Parata then went on to signal she would not answer questions unless members of the committee referred to charter schools as partnership schools.


When Green MP Catherine Delahunty asked Ms Parata how the ministry knew charter schools would reach the right demographic - underachieving Maori and Pacific students, Ms Parata further reminded her.

"First of all they are partnership schools, or kura hourua."

"What I call them charter schools," said Ms Delahunty.

"Well, I can only answer questions about what I know about, so would you like me to speak about partnership schools?" Ms Parata said.

"Certainly," replied Ms Delahunty.

The Education Ministry, Ms Parata and Associate Education Minister John Banks originally referred to the schools they plan to introduce under a coalition agreement with the Act Party as charter schools.

Last year in an attempt to rebrand charter schools as more acceptable to the general public, they coined the term "partnership schools" - all other countries call the same schools charter schools.

Labour's acting education spokeswoman Dr Megan Woods said the reprimand from the minister showed the level of discomfort that the minister and the National Government has over the schools and that they are "unpopular".

"If they are going to insist we call them partnership schools to get our questions answered, we'll call them partnership schools."